Thank you for your continued loyalty to our Fire & Vine Hospitality restaurants and hotels. We truly value our relationship with you and while we don’t usually share information about politics, we wanted to let you know about the economic impact of a piece of legislation proposed by the Seattle City Council. If approved, it has the potential to severely impact the Seattle restaurant industry, as well as many other types of small businesses.
In June 2019, the Seattle City Council introduced Council Bill, # 119555, which mandates health care payments for hotel employees and employees of independent businesses physically connected to the hotel. These independently-owned restaurants, gift shops, cafes, garages and newspaper delivery services are examples of what the Council calls “ancillary businesses.”
Independent businesses who lease space in any other type of building including office, apartments, and retail centers are not subject to this new mandate. We don’t understand why the Council is treating a business who leases space in a hotel differently.
This proposed legislation mandates that if a restaurant leases space from a hotel and employs more than 50 employees worldwide, any employee who works 20 hours or more a week, is required to receive up to $20,000 a year in cash payments for healthcare benefits in addition to their pay. The cost of this proposed mandate is 800% more than the current Affordable Care Act law for health coverage.
As a restaurant and hotel owner, we provide industry-leading compensation and generous healthcare benefits to our employees and their families. Each of our employees who works at least 25 hours a week is eligible for our Gold Level healthcare plan for themselves and their dependents. The City Council legislation lowers that to 20 hours a week but only for hotel employees and ancillary businesses. The Affordable Care Act requires that all employees receive the same healthcare benefits which means we would be required to change our company-wide policy.
We are asking the City Council to remove the “ancillary hotel business” requirement from this legislation when they meet on September 5th at 9:00 am and the measure goes to a vote on September 9th. We would appreciate your support by reaching out to your City Council representative.
Here is some recent coverage of this issue:
CEO, Fire & Vine Hospitality